please help new to rhododendroms

lilc5July 20, 2008

Hi everyone

I purchased a 2.5 gallon rhododendrom at home depot in May. It flowered in late May early June. I did not prune it once the flowers died. Was I suppose to? I have been watering daily and feeding twice a month BUD & BLOOM. I noticed today that new buds are starting to develop. Is that normal that Rhododendroms flower twice during the summer? In may it flowered prefusely. Any new tips for a new owner would be appreciated...especially about prunning.

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Hi, really perplexed on this one. I planted 2 rhodos last summer and this year noticed that after they bloomed they started to die. Eventually it got so bad that I decided to remove them and when I did the plants popped right out of their holes, absolutely no root growth in 8 months ! I knew my soil had a lot of clay so I really broke it up with mulch and sand before I put these in and am just really stumped as not so much as 1 root went beyond the root ball. Anyone have any ideas ? Is it my soil ?

    Bookmark   July 21, 2008 at 9:22AM
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morz8(Washington Coast Z8b)

lilc5 - regular of pruning of rhododendrons isn't required, or even recommended. They set their flower buds in summer for blooms the following Spring - the buds you are seeing now could be the beginnings of next years flowers, it's hard for me to tell without a photo. Is your rhododendron planted in the ground or still in the pot? Daily watering may be excessive for a rhododendron in the ground, you want the soil moist, but not soggy.

Same with the fertilizing - twice a month is excessive. These shrubs have low nutritional requirements compared to many others, when grown in soil with the correct (acidic) ph, they often require no fertilizer at all but may benefit from one application of a fertilizer appropriate for acid loving plants around time of bloom. If you continue with fertilizer now in your climate, you could force new growth that will not harden off before your cold weather. I don't know quite what Bud and Bloom is, but it at least sounds like something for annual flowering plants...stop using it.

I've linked Rhodymans rhododendron site for you, read through the articles on How to Grow, fertilizing, care. Check back with us again if you have more questions.

Here is a link that might be useful: Rhodyman's growing site

    Bookmark   July 21, 2008 at 10:57AM
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morz8(Washington Coast Z8b)

Mykevs, rhododendrons have a dense network of fine surface roots and commonly become rootbound in nursery pots. When planting them, its important to loosen the rootball or the roots may continue to grow in their pot shaped circle direction and never establish into the ground - the rhododendron will eventually die, usually before its third year.

You can either break up the rootball with your fingers, use a knife to cut slits or Xs on the sides of the rootball, or in the case of very potbound plants, root prune - by taking a very sharp clean knife and cutting away 1/2" to 1" from the sides of the pot shaped root mass before installing in the ground.

Side note - With my own clay based soil, I try to incorporate as much organic material/compost into beds when I'm preparing them as I can. I've used coarse builders grit (sand) in addition but don't find it accomplishes much that is positive.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2008 at 11:08AM
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Thanks for your reply. My soil is also very clay like and I had planted it in the ground with brand new soil when I first got it. It is in full sun (4-5 hours daily) and I have not mulched around it. I take back my statement on watering daily. Lately I would say I give it a good drink once a week. It is a little droppy by the time I go to give it water so I know it is in need. Thanks for the link. I will read over it. I will post a picture as soon as I can. I do see a lot of the long seed like sticks from where the flowers once used to be. But the new buds are growing on other branches.
I appreciate the response and help!

    Bookmark   July 21, 2008 at 9:46PM
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morz8(Washington Coast Z8b)

Carolina, your young rhododendron is directing energy into ripening those seeds that would otherwise go into establishing itself in your garden and forming flower buds for next Spring. Deadheading is not the same as pruning, and especially on younger plants you do want to deadhead...unless of course you have need for the seed.

You can just reach in, being careful of the new leaves that have formed around the spent flower structure, and break off the part that was the flower, now is seed pods.

I think there may be an illustration of that process on the website I linked earlier. Scroll down to Sanitation and Deadheading, following Pruning.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2008 at 1:01AM
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